Nairobi,KENYA:Kenya has joined other countries on the globe to commemorate World Contraception Day.
This comes at a time when various studies have shown a rise in cases of teenage pregnancies and it has been stressed that offering youth friendly family planning services would eradicate these worrying statistics.
“Many young people in need of reproductive health services may either shy away from seeking the services or be denied access to sexual and reproductive health services for a variety of reasons.
Existing health providers may be biased and may not be feel comfortable serving sexually active youth,’ said Dr. George Kamau the Kenya Country Director, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW) Kenya.
Ann Mitu a Youth Rights Ambassador said that allowing youths to access the services would allow adolescent girls who are sexually active an opportunity to complete their education.
“Imagine this girl who was impregnated then discontinued her education, yet the boy is in school. Her education is diminished and she becomes vulnerable to poverty or even another pregnancy,” Mitu remarked.
Dr. Kamau advised that youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services can only become a reality if the national and county governments allocate at least 10% of the health budget for family planning services in line with the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, popularly known as the Maputo Protocol, to which Kenya is a signatory.
“Offering family planning to adolescent girls is a way of reducing cases of abortions, however this is not a ticket to promiscuity,” said Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary for Health.
During her tour in Kenya, Melinda Gates, the co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that the services would also avert maternal deaths.
“In 2015, 1.2 million unintended pregnancies and 4000 maternal deaths were averted in Kenya because of the access to contraceptives,” she said.
The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014 reveals that many young Kenyans aged between 15 and 18 years are becoming parents while 3 out of 100 girls are already child-bearing by age 15, rising to 40 out of 100 girls by age 19.
In 2012, Kenya joined the global ambitious goal that by 2020, 120 million more women and girls would have access to contraceptives and information about planning their families.
“We are at the halfway mark ‘time-wise’ from when that goal was set in 2012. So far we have obtained voluntary access to 24 million women. We are not on track yet to meet that target. We need to get back and get on top of this goal,” concluded Ms. Gates.